The Raiders made many upgrades to their offense this past offseason. They brought many players in and let others go, but running back Jalen Richard comes back for year two under head coach Jon Gruden.
Richard, whom Oakland re-signed earlier this year, has been a steady contributor since his rookie year and has delivered when his number has been called upon. Last year, he had 55 carries for 259 yards and caught 68 passes for 607 yards as a third-down back.
Richard will have a similar role this season as rookie Josh Jacobs will likely be the Raiders featured back; the team will do as much as they can to hand him the starting job. With the exception of quarterback, you don’t draft a player that high in the draft (24th overall) and have him sit on the bench.
With Jacobs as the starter, Richard will be the team’s change of pace back, something he has done well in the last few seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, his 2.26 yards per route were the second best among running backs in 2018 and ended up ranking eight with a 82.5 PFF receiving grade.
Having said that, the addition of weapons on offense such as Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams may take touches away from Richard. Last year, Oakland relied on him because other than him and tight Jared Cook, there was no one else quarterback Derek Carr could throw the ball to. Now, the Raiders offense will have more options when it comes to their passing game.
At the same time, Richard will benefit from having many playmakers on offense who draw double coverage and in turn, open up opportunities for the running back.
Richard has played well regardless of how good or bad the rest of the team is. This year should be no different and even though he will possibly have less touches, he will still make the most out of them.
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